Something interesting has happened in recent years on the path of four-division champion Nonito Donaire’s eventual path to boxing immortality and a well-deserved place in the Hall of Fame.
Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs), the hard-hitting native of the Philippines, has never stopped daring to be old enough to grow too old or become a danger to himself in this exciting twilight of his 20-year professional career. .
Already the oldest fighter to win a world bantamweight title in 2018 when Donaire, then 35, beat Ryan Burnett to grab the WBA crown, the “Filipino Flash” will look to expand his brand significantly at 38 years old and 204 days on Saturday when he will challenge Frenchman Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) for his WBC title at 118 pounds (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET) at Dignity Sports Health Park in Carson, California.
The fight was originally scheduled for 2020 and went through various stages of postponement and cancellations, even after replacement opponents were named, due to complications from COVID-19 suffered by both fighters. But nothing seems to be holding back Donaire’s story quest this time around in his first appearance since co-creating the 2019 Fight of the Year when he broke the orbit pound-for-pound, ranking Naoya Inoue. in a close defeat over thrilling (and brutal) 12 rounds.
Donaire has fought some of the sport’s most dangerous fighters weighing up to 126 pounds in two separate featherweight races over the past decade, but considers bantamweight his best and favorite weight class as he seems to become only the 11th fighter in history to hold world titles in three different decades.
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“When I got into the gym for this fight, I could feel that the power, the speed, the explosiveness was there again,” Donaire said. “I felt like my body had time to heal properly for this training camp. I’m very confident for Saturday night.”
“He’s very technically sound. You can’t underestimate a guy like him who has that amateur pedigree and who wore that belt on his waist. We don’t underestimate him. He’s smart and tough, but I do. I have the experience, the power, the speed and all the motivation to beat him. I will seek the knockout like I do in every fight. “
Bettors installed Donaire as a little underdog with immense respect for his one-shot knockout power against southpaw Oubaali, who last fought on the lower card of Donaire’s decision loss to Inoue when ‘he handed the brother of the Japanese “Monster”, Takuma Inoue, his first pro loss in the second defense of his WBC reign.
“Yes, [Donaire] has had an exceptional career and he has power, but I believe I have more power than him, “Oubaali said.” I know I have the power. He’s a good boxer but I’m world champion and on Saturday I’m going to show the world who’s the best. I know I am the best. I respect Nonito. He’s had a good career but I’m the best in the division. “
While Donaire’s potency has long been his calling card, it was his great technique that combined with his tenacity to keep him viable in the lower weight classes despite his age in a way that was both shocking and shocking. impressive.
A big part of Donaire’s confidence coming in this weekend is how invigorated he felt in the gym after changing his mindset during the fight to become even more of a finisher.
“For four or five years, maybe even longer, I’ve been fighting to work with guys. The mentality wasn’t about destroying someone,” Donaire said. “But in this training camp, I had a very good fight where I go at my own pace and I don’t hold back anymore. I gave everything.
“This was the most important key to recovering the killer instinct I had in the past. I was very aware after Inoue’s fight that I had to make a change in the fight. When I hurt a guy , I was taking a step back. It showed in the ring when I hurt Inoue, I backed up a bit instead of going into the killing spree. “
While Oubaali has regularly praised Donaire’s accomplishments and his opponent’s respect as a man, he expects to put it all aside once the two share the ring.
“Nonito Donaire is a big name and he’s been a world champion in many divisions. He’s strong, but I know what he can do and I know what my strategy is,” Oubaali said. “I think we have similar styles because we both like to stand up and fight [but] I am the best bantamweight in the world.
“I’m going to give a big fight on Saturday so everyone knows. I want all the bantamweights to know that I’m ready for them. I want to fight the best. I’m ready for the winner of John Riel Casimero. Against Guillermo Rigondeaux. or Naoya Inoue. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best. I know I’m the best. Now I need to win and show the world. “
Donaire shares his opponent’s hope of bringing Inoue back to the ring for a rematch if he defeats Oubaali. Inoue returned last October for the first time since breaking his orbit against Donaire when he knocked out Jason Moloney and will again defend his WBA and IBF titles on June 19 against Michael Dasmarinas in Las Vegas.
“I want to fight the best out there. I want the rematch with Naoya Inoue and I want to get all the belts,” Donaire said. “The only thing I haven’t accomplished in boxing is becoming the undisputed champion. I’ve done everything else – fighter of the year, knockout of the year, multiple championships, four-division champion. call. This is my main goal.. Get the belt and put them all together. “
Fight card, odds
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
- Dated: May 29
- Location: Dignity Health Sports Park – Carson, CA
- Start time: 9 p.m. ET
- How to watch: Showtime, Showtime.com or the Showtime app
As the betting odds indicate, Donaire is truly a living dog in this fight considering his power and the tremendous hunger he’s shown not to walk away quietly at the end of his career. He’s openly talked about going into this training camp to fight until his forties and is back in a weight class where he can change the conditions of a fight against any opponent with just one punch. .
Expect Oubaali to be active and difficult for Donaire from the southpaw stance with an aggressive style that statistically reduced the production of his opponents. Donaire will likely have to give up a few laps in the face of this bulky style in order to determine the right timing and opening to land his heavy kickbacks.
Despite Donaire’s confidence, it’s still hard to ignore that he’s been gone for over 18 months and might have lost any momentum created by his impressive (and largely unexpected) performance against Inoue. Can he bring more than a puncher’s luck to stop Oubaali and actually be a threat to win more rounds if he were to go the distance?
This question can only be answered in the ring, but it clearly persists during the proceedings. As long as Oubaali can avoid getting too reckless in his pursuit, it’s a fight he should win, even if Donaire has a few moments that remind us of just how tall he is still.
Take: Oubaali via UD12